Earlier today, Catalyst Sports & Media announced that its esports division has combined forces with Popdog. While it has been a joy to co-lead the esports team at Catalyst since its inception, I will not join them for this new chapter. I’m thrilled for my colleagues as they make this transition, and I know they will continue breaking new ground for our industry at Popdog.
While I am most visible to the public as a lawyer, I’ve taken on a broader role in the esports industry over the past few years. And as I head into this next phase of my career, I would like to take a quick moment to reflect on my time at Catalyst, the state of ESG, and where my career goes from here.
The mission statement for our esports team was simple: create a bridge between esports and traditional sports, media, and entertainment. We entered the market at the beginning of an inflection point that is now in full swing — namely, the transition from esports serving as a marketing engine for developers into an independently-monetized set of spectator properties. We believed that our unique blend of traditional sports and esports experience would allow us to educate and shepherd non-endemics into the space, setting them up to capitalize on the long-term potential of the industry. This thesis proved accurate, and the Catalyst esports team accomplished much in an accelerating market:
- Advised on major team investment deals, including the Madison Square Garden Company’s investment in Counter Logic Gaming and the Hersh Family Offices’ investment in Team EnVyUs;
- Helped the Golden State Warriors launch their esports division, create their brand, and successfully apply to become a permanent partner in the LCS;
- Advised major brands (Dr. Pepper, Chipotle, McLaren, and more) on activations in the space;
- Advised investors of all types (family offices, angels, VCs, etc.) who have deployed tens of millions of dollars throughout the industry;
- Helped launch apparel brand Ateyo;
- Advised on a team’s successful application to join the LEC;
- Sourced and placed executives at major esports teams; and
- Invested in esports and gaming companies (including Ateyo, FanAI, and Super League Gaming).
It’s been a busy two years. I am grateful for the incredible team I have worked with, especially Josh Swartz for being the best boss and mentor, Avi Bhuiyan who started as my business partner and ended as one of my best friends, and Yoni Ginsberg who hustles as hard as anyone I’ve met and is undoubtedly a rising star in this industry.
I began ESG as a one-man operation at the beginning of 2017, but it grew much faster than I could have anticipated. ESG provides legal services for the biggest Western esports teams (including 7/10 members of the LCS, 6/10 members of the LEC, and 9/20 members of the OWL), the majority of the on-air talent team for the OWL, and many more businesses and individuals throughout the industry. In order to meet this demand, we now have a team of four attorneys — Krista Hiner and Harris Peskin are full-service, while Genie Doi runs our immigration division — and also maintain a year-round internship program.
As the firm has scaled, I transitioned my personal role to focus more on management than day-to-day deliverables, though I’m not ready to leave the trenches. ESG supports the efforts of esports stakeholders that are building the foundation on which the industry will grow into a global entertainment powerhouse in the decades to come. I’m proud of the work we do and will continue to expand the scope of our expertise to better serve our core clientele.
What’s next for me?
I honestly don’t know the full scope of my future plans, and that is intentional. In the past five years, I’ve taken roughly three weeks of vacation. I don’t say that to brag — vacations are important and I’m an idiot for deprioritizing them to this level (my wife approves of this statement). In an attempt to make up for lost time, I will take the next month off. ESG will be in the incredibly capable hands of Krista, Harris, and Genie, and I’m going to take the much needed opportunity to recharge, read, sleep, and actually play a video game.
Whenever people ask me what I do, I find it an unusually difficult question to answer. For the past two years, I’ve maintained two full-time jobs in Catalyst and ESG. Though it has been a lot of work, these two roles allowed me to grow both personally and professionally while having the broadest impact on the development of the industry that I love. I’m confident ESG will continue to grow and I remain committed to maintaining the high standards we set for ourselves in client service. I am simultaneously excited to continue working on projects that do not directly leverage my legal skills, and I will explore my options more fully in the new year.
Thank you once again to Catalyst, ESG, and my clients for supporting me on this fun and rewarding path, and I look forward to returning with gusto in February 2019.